Twin Peaks Definitive Gold Box Edition

Back in 2001, the company then known as Artisan Home Entertainment brought the first season of Twin Peaks to dvd, complete with new Lynch supervised transfers and sound mixes. Due to rights issues, the pilot was not included, but it was a good start. Fans eagerly awaited the release of the second season to complete their collection. And waited...and waited. Unfortunately, do to more rights craziness, the second season of Twin Peaks on dvd was not to be for some time. Finally, through various mergers, buyouts and rights expirations (the whole story of which would be in article in itself), the entire series landed in the hands of Paramount. Earlier this year the wait was finally over and we received the eagerly anticipated second season. But Paramount wasn't done yet. In Europe, where they had the dvd rights to season one and the pilot, dvd sets of the first season included both. Now, with the release of the Definitive Gold Box Edition, those of us in the US finally get every episode, pilot and both seasons, not to mention a wealth of goodies that make the set worth the price alone.

As stated, the entire series is here. Video quality varies quite a bit from season to season. It looks like they reused the same transfers from season one done for the original dvd set. This is somewhat of a shame, as video technology has improved quite a bit since then. But they were Lynch supervised so at least we're seeing them as close to how he wanted as the technology at the time allowed. Each episode allows you the choice of watching with or without it's Log Lady episode, originally produced for the Bravo run of the series. Unfortunately these were done on a limited budget and are in need of some serious clean up work, though there's only so much you can do with the original source. The episodes themselves look pretty good, certainly the best Twin Peaks has ever looked. Even though the transfers themselves are exactly the same, the encoding job done on the first season is far better than Artisan's version. That right there makes the upgrade worth it, though other's may not be as picky. Unfortunately, the DTS 5.1 audio mixes from the first season weren't carried over to this set. We still get the Dolby Digital 5.1 versions, but it's a shame to lose the slightly superior DTS versions. Still, the mixes sound really good. Peaks was always know for it's outstanding sound design, even back when it aired (it was one of the few series to broadcast in Dolby Surround at the time). Nice to see it well preserved here. All around a solid video and audio presentation.

Okay, on to the goodies that push this set over the top and in my opinion, make it well worth purchasing even to those who have the first two season sets. Paramount no doubt knew they'd have a hard sell to those who already laid down a serious chunk of change for seasons one and two. In the Gold Box, they've pulled out all the stops with new bonus features, while not duplicating what's on the individual season sets (aside from a few soundbites) so's not to make them worthless to those who've purchased them. And let's be honest, most of the features on the original season one set, while kind of cute, were pretty amateurish and in some cases outright embarrassing. Artisan appeared to have given the producer a budget of about $1.98 for season one extras. Thankfully, Paramount brought in veteran dvd producer Charles de Lauzirika, one of the best in his field, to produce new extras for the Peaks Gold Box. Most of the bonus materials are contained on disc 10, which features some very nice animated menus of the lodge.

First up is a half hour long conversation with Lynch, MacLachlan, Amick and John Wentworth entitled "A Slice of Lynch," presented in anamorphic 16x9 widescreen. Rather than being simply the usual talking head interview, it takes place over a slice of pie in a diner and is framed with the idea that Lynch is having a dream conversation with his old friends (or is he?). It could have come off as cheesy like much of the material on the original season one set, but thankfully it's very well done and fits Lynch's style perfectly.

Next up is the real meat and potatoes of the extras, a 105 minute long documentary entitled "Secrets from Another Place," again presented in anamorphic 16x9 widescreen. The doc is split into four sections: The Pilot, Season One, The Music and Season Two. Almost all the main cast and crew chimes in at one point or another, with the exception of Lynch himself (who had his own say in the Slice of Lynch feature). Just when you think they must not have been able to get so and so to appear, they pop up. The only major players (Lynch and the late Jack Nance aside) really missing from the documentary are Michael Ontkean and Lara Flynn Boyle. But their absence is hardly missed. Mark Frost carries a majority of the documentary, chronicling the start of his working relationship with Lynch, the first ideas for the series and the two seasons. Most everyone is pretty candid about the second season and the reasons they think things went a bit off track. There's discussion of the aborted Cooper and Audrey love plotline that was originally planned to take over after Laura Palmer's murder was solved. The Music section exclusively features Angelo Badalamenti and Julee Cruise, including an amusing story about Paul McCartney and the Queen.

Two of the Peaks related SNL sketches are on the set, both from the 1990 episode with Kyle MacLachlan. Included are the monologue and the Peaks sketch where they find the killer. In true SNL style neither are really all that funny, but it's nice to have them here. A pre-Late Nite Conan O'Brien makes a cameo as a deputy. I wish they would have included Julee Cruise's SNL performance, but perhaps with the video on the disc it was deemed redundant.

The annual Peaks Fest and fans in general are well represented in "Return to Twin Peaks," which runs about 20 minutes. There's nothing really new here, especially if you've been to the fest in past years. But it's nice that those who've been keeping the show alive all these years get a bit of the spotlight. We also get to see some of the locations. There's an interactive map of the locations, sort of a high tech version of the good old ascii map from the usenet days. There're some pretty good modern photos of the various shooting locations from the series. Addresses are provided of all locations.

"The Black Lodge Archive" features various promotional goodies from the time of the series. Pretty much everything is here, and the quality is surprisingly good considering the age of the material and the fact that this kind of stuff was generally not archived very well. The "Falling" music video, all four of the Georgia Coffee commercials (looking the best I've ever seen them), Richard Beymer's photo gallery, unit photography, the Star Pics trading card set, many of the original series ads (including the infamous Wizard of Oz Thursdays ad), the 1-900 phone messages (a minor trend back in the 80's where you could call and get exclusive messages for a small fee to your phone bill) and Lucy's bumpers (the short messages run in the middle of commercials reminding people what they're watching). The back of the box only glosses over this section, but don't let that fool you, there's a gold mine in there. Also be sure to check out disc nine for a few surviving deleted scenes and some other production documents (it almost looks like they raided Bruce Phillips' closet :) ). Too bad they couldn't have put some of the Invitation to Love raw segments on the set (tapes of which have been floating around fandom for years), but these scenes are a nice inclusion. Given the wealth of extra material here, it's understandable they couldn't include everything.

As an added bonus, each set comes with 12 Twin Peaks post cards. The entire series consists of 61 cards, so I guess you have to buy several sets to get the whole thing. That's a tough sell at a list price of $100 for each dvd set, but the cards are very nice so just getting the ones you do is a attractive added bonus.

So I guess the one last question to ask is, does this set really live up to the word "definitive." Yes, this set really does live up to its name. Ray Wise sums things up rather nicely at the end of the Secrets doc: "...Twin Peaks was meant to burn very brightly for a short period of time...very hot, very intense, very passionate, and then burn out and disappear." If this is to be the last and final words we hear from the world of Twin Peaks, it's good to see it go out with the respect it deserves. Thank you Charles de Lauzirika. And thank you Paramount.

**For more free goodies and promotional items related to the dvd set, pop over to The free wallpapers are worth the mouse click alone.

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